Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympics Gold Medal Game - Hockey

United States

Canada

3:15 PM, Canada Hockey Place, Vancouver, BC


Well here is the game we have all been waiting for since Friday night. The United States and Canada. Coming into the Olympics most thought the USA had an outside shot of medaling, but nobody really gave them much shot of playing for gold. Then they go and win every game they played, including the one against the host country.

Canada Hockey Place is going to be rockin and the fans are going to be amped for this hockey game. As you know Canada basically has hockey and nothing else and gold was expected from this team from the very first day. Losing to the Americans would be a shot in the heart to the people, and the nation.

A lot of stats are being thrown out about this is the 50-year anniversary of a USA gold medal, team Canada has twice as many Cup wins as the US team, the size of the Canadians, but what does that all mean? Nothing. You can say whatever you want but its a one game, winner take all. Anything can happen.

This is more or less a rivalry game so you can definitely throw anything you want out the door, this is going to be a great game.

The USA needs to have a good first period, even if they are down one I think that is ok figuring in the venue and what is at stake. A good start is so important for this team to get some confidence.

It's game time baby.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kipprunot, USA Route

( @ItsMillerTime39 sorry for the title, I know you love Miikka )



Knowing that this game would probably dictate how people would look at the United States would fare, should they go into the title game, was probably on the mind of the United States players, and they adjusted accordingly. I mean it would have been ok with me had the United States went into the break with a 1-0 lead, they one upped me there, no, check that, that did that, times six. What a period of hockey.



I am not sure when Finland signed a shooter tutor to play goal for them, but it was clearly not a great idea for a game against the United States.


FIRST PERIOD

I was actually on the road when the game started. I checked my blackberry for the score and found out that Ryan Malone scored a goal in the first three minutes.



Ok, that was pretty sweet early 1-0 lead for the USA, I think they will be alright now. I take a five minute ride home and turn on the TV and it is 4-0. What the hell.

Well in the five minute time span the United States scored three goals in like five seconds and chased goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff in the games first six minutes. The United States scored four goals in the first six minutes, and the game was pretty much over.



As I watched the game the United States score two more goal, in only 15 seconds to make the score 6-0 and leading me to laugh my ass off. Kane scored a goal, Malone had the first, Parise and a few more of the Stars and Stripes found the net. Who knows.

The Untied States scored their first four goals on seven shots and Brian Rafalski chipped in an assist and became the Olympics leading point-getter with eight points.

You wanna know how dominating the performance was for the United States in the first period? Finland gave up only four goals in the tournament coming in and U.S. put six in the back of the cage in the first.

What do you tell your team if you are the Finland coach? Maybe tell them not to be jokes?

SECOND PERIOD

All things considered there was not too much going on in the second period of play. The USA didn’t score six goal, and they didn’t need to, but they did need to keep up the good play. The carry over of letting yourself just coast through the game could be bad going into Saturday, but it seemed like an OK period for the United States.

During the period we got to hear Doc continue to butcher Teemu Salanne’s name as if he was something you could buy at your local Wal-Mart. Evidently it is Teemu Salami, another reason NBC has royally messed this up. Usually I enjoy listening to Doc but maybe being paired up with Pierre and Edzo has finally started to get to him. In pretty much every Finish game he has called him Salami so I have no idea what he is doing. Is there an over/under for him saying it?

Finland was kinda just jobbing around in the period. Some cheap shit going on about half way through. Ryan Miller covers a puck up in the crease and Jarkko Ruutu decides to jump on the back of Ryan Miller as he was laying belly down on the ice. What a joke.



I know Jarkko was on the Penguins and he was good at what he was doing, but since he has moved on he has gotten dirtier than he was with the Penguins. Rutuu just laid on Miller and it was enough to earn him a game misconduct for the game.

Not to be outdone Olli Jokenin gives Pat Kane a nice slash on the leg while the refs were trying to get Rutuu off of Millers back, you stay classy Olli, you joke. Not real sure what he was trying to do, but you can’t fight in the Olympics and I guess he knew Kane wouldn’t throw down since the game was pretty much over.

The USA got a power play from all of that, with only Ruutu getting a two minute and ten minute misconduct. The USA couldn’t generate a goal, but they didn’t really need to. They got a few good chances but couldn’t get any of them to fall.

THIRD PERIOD

The third period was just a solid game from the United States in holding the lead. They tried to get some offense going but it wasn’t a priority to get ten more goal, and that should be alright.

Ryan Miller was yanked in the third period with about 11 minutes to go and this shouldn’t have been a big deal. Miller has played every single minute and it was a 6-0 game, no need for him to be in the contest. This is like taking out your starters in basketball with a few minutes left.

Sure was there an opportunity for Ryan Miller to grab a shutout? Yea, but what is really more important here? I think giving Ryan a little rest is a good move, he has nothing more to prove and he is going to face a ton of shots on Sunday against Canada.

Brooks Orpik got mixed up with some Finish players. He has had a real nice Olympics so far, although he is not talked about as much as our Pittsburgh fans are used to hearing him, but he has played great.

The Finland team finally found the scoreboard when they beat Tim Thomas with about five minutes left in the game. The reason Finland scored is because Pierre was talking about the shutout on live TV. What a tool.

Lets get ready for some gold medal hockey. Get your minds right.

USA

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Steelers Sign Snack



There usually isn't too many great stories about the Steelers in mid February, but today is different. It was rumored last night, and confirmed this morning, that Casey Hampton was signed to a three-year deal. Sweet.

The three-year deal worth $21.3 million with a $6.5 million signing bonus. Not a bad deal at all for Casey Hampton and to have him finish his career in Pittsburgh. General manager, Kevin Colbert, said that he feels Hampton has a few good years left in him and hopes that this deal makes him retire as a Steeler.

I don't really see how this is a bad deal for the Steelers. Hampton has been nothing short of great for the Steelers and they have him locked up for probably the rest of his football life. It also gives the Steelers the flexibility to go out in the draft and look for a nose tackle so that he can learn and then step in when Casey is done playing.

It has been noted that there is some good depth on the defensive line front, especially the nose position in the 3-4 so look for the Steelers to get one, not in the first round, but probably in the top three rounds.

With Hampton not taking up the franchise tag that left the door open for the Steelers to slap the tag on kicker Jeff Reed. Another great deal. Reed will make $2.6 million with the deal and if another team wants to sign Reed they can, but the Steelers will get two first round picks for them. The Steelers might pull the tag as they pretty much slapped it on him so that they could work out a longer term deal.

I think Jeff wants to be with the Steelers and here is what Colbert has to say about Reed:

"We've been in contact with Jeff and he's aware of the situation, and his agent is aware of the situation," Colbert said. "My goal is to lock Jeff up long term and have him finish his career with the Steelers. He's aware of that and aware that sometimes the process gets to this point where we all need to buy some time."


These two deals are huge for the Steelers. They are two of the three top priorities that the Steelers targeted are signed and under contract for next year and it helps them out for the draft. In signing Hampton it does not mean they have to think about drafing a nose tackle in the first round, they can now go elsewhere with that pick. Jeff Reed has probably been the best kicker in the NFL considering where he kicks. Sure he missed two against the Bears but he only missed like two other kicks the rest of the year, so that is a great sign, even if it is only with the franchise tag for now.

The other of the three priorities is safety Ryan Clark. Clark was not slapped with the transition tag so he will hit free agency, but Colbert said they were in continued talk with Clark and his agent to get a deal done to keep him in Pittsburgh. Sure Clark was not that good this year, but with a healthy Troy with him, he is pretty scary. Troy and Ryan work very well together and it would be good to get him locked up. Even if it is only for two years we can draft a safety guy and work him in and out with Clark and Ryan Mundy to get him ready. This should be interesting.

Colbert was asked about Parker and he said there is still the option to bring him back, but Fast Willie wants to test the market, so that he will do. Would it be nice to have Willie back? Yea, especially how he ended the season, but it has to be at the right price.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Little Bit of it All

There isn't really a huge story to talk about so I am going to pick up on a few things that have been flowing through the papers and blogs and see if any of it is interesting. With that being said, lets get after it.

First lets start off with the Olympics, and it looks as if Martin Brodeur will be replaced by Roberto Luongo. Not really surprised there. Marty played a terrible game against the Americans and his puck handling was a big reason why. Should it be Luongo in this spot or should MAF get a shot> DK, who is at the Olympics, makes a case for our Penguins net keeper. I can see how MAF would have a strong case for getting in the lineup but I think Luongo is the best bet for team Canada. He already has a SO and you need to have some consistency back there.

The US is still leading the medal count before today even started, so far they have a few more medals than the Germans so far. The US also is tied for the lead on gold medals with seven.

Baseball America came out with their top-100 prospects today. Two Pirates made the list in Pedro Alverez (8th) and Tony Sanchez (79th).

Another prospect list was out there from Project Prospect as they ranked their top 100 today. Four different Pirates made that list headlined by Alverez at 12th.

Buccos Prospect Jose Tabata is really to be in the big leagues and really worked hard on a lot of his game, especially his learning the English language, to put himself in this position. If you have followed my Pirates talk on this blog you know how I feel about Tabata. I am really high on this kid and feel like he can make a huge difference on this team. Jose has matured and it looks as if he is going to be in a Pirate uniform at the midpoint on the season and I can't wait to watch him play next to Cutch. If he pans out this lineup could be real fun to watch.

Winter Classic at PNC Park? Eh, I say no. Not because I don't want it to be in Pittsburgh, it is just I don't think PNC Park is a great place to have it. I am not a huge fan of having baseball venues for hockey games, too many bad seats, I feel that Heinz Field would be a nice play to have it, and it seats about 20,000+ more people. As the boys over at The Pensblog have said before the Penguins have been in this game before and we need to see some other teams in this. I agree 100%, although Pens/Caps would be sweet.

The Steelers are going to have to make a decision about Big Snack (Casey Hampton for those of you who have been sleeping under a rock for the last 8 years) by Thursday. You ask me I bet he is tagged and they try to work out a contract during that time. Snack has said he doesn't want to be tagged, and I understand why, but he really doesn't have much choice. If he gets tagged and doesn't play in 2010-11 and then there is a lockout in the next year he will be out football for two years and at his age that would doom him. He'll get tagged and the Steelers will probably work out a deal for him.

These links have nothing to do with sports but I think they are cool. NASA is doing a buncha stuff and talking about how cold it is and how much snow we are getting. They also have a nice video of the global warming stuff and what is going on with that. Defiantly really cool.

That is all. Be well people

Sunday, February 21, 2010

USA USA USA




USA USA USA

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Pittsburgh Panthers

Villanova Wildcats


I usually only deal with the three big teams in Pittsburgh (Steelers/Penguins/Pirates) but how can you deny that the Pitt Panthers are not a top notch program in the Pittsburgh area. Tomorrow is a big day at the play we like to call "The Pete". The fourth best team in the nation comes to town. A team that hasn't beaten the Panthers in Pittsburgh since 1996, when I was 10. Hopefully that continues. I could be 10 forever, or something like that.


It was only a few season ago, in 2006, that Sports Illustrated asked players in the Big East to name what they thought was the toughest place to play in the conference. “The Pete,” with credit given to the Zoo and the rest of the fans, was named the toughest that year.

Pitt is 6-0 all-time against top-five opponents at the Petersen Events Center, where it has won 35 of its last 36.

The Zoo is gonna be off the hook tomorrow. Sure I have to wake up at 8 AM but who cares. Do it Pitt, do it.

Olympic Update

The Olympics are just flying by aren't they? We have been going for our first full week and the medal count is really starting to come into focus. The United States are on their stuff this year. They are raking in the medals and it hasn't really been that close. Here is what it is looking like:

1) United States - 23 (6,7,10)
2) Germany - 14 (4,6,4)
3) Norway - 11 (5,3,3)
4) Korea - 9 (4,4,1)
5) Canada - 8 (4,3,1)

Oh hey Canada, how are things going down there? Not only couldn't you do anything right during the opening ceremonies but you can barely win a medal. Sucks.

There were some good stuff on today. The hockey games were not that great but some other stuff was well worth watching today. I could say that I am doing well on my picks that I made with the staff from The Steelers n'at but to be honest I have no idea where I stand. I know Lindsey Vonn won and that is about it. Whatev, he is probably dominating me.

The men's curling team really stepped it up a notch winning back-to-back matches. Today they won in the 11th end with the hammer, something they have not been able to do in three other tries this Olympics. The Americans beat the Swiss 8-7 and actually got the big shots when they needed them. They defeated France 4-3 Friday for their first win, sitting their skip John Shuster. Gutsy call, but it worked. The announcers didn't like the call to sit him on Thursday but you know what if this were the MLB and your starter gives up five in three innings he is going to get yanked, so deal with it.

The women's curling team brought home a 6-5 win over the Brits today. I don't know what it is about curling but I am really getting into it. They are pretty sweet. It doesn't hurt that the women's team has some lookers on it. Sure they are married but hey, I don't mind what I see. Anyways, the women also won on Friday 6-4 over Russia. Good. Both teams are on a two game win streak and it is not out of the realm of possibility for them to get into the medal round. Don't get me wrong they are a longer shot and they have some really tough teams to play, but whatev.

Here were the hockey games from Saturday:

Switzerland 5
Norway 4


Slovakia 6
Latvia 0


Belarus 5
Germany 3


Women's short track speed skating was pretty much a joke. Korea took six of a possible nine medal places in three different races so that was pretty unsweet to watch. Still, good for them.

American Apolo Ohno set a new record with his seventh medal. Ohno's seventh medal broke a tie with long-track speedskater Bonnie Blair. He now has two gold, two silver and three bronze medals in his three Olympic appearances. The skater from Seattle already earned a silver in the 1,500 last weekend. Pretty sweet. Go America.

Big games on tomorrow. Russia/Czech at 11 AM, US/Canada 3:40 PM, Sweden/Finland 8:00 PM. What a group of games. I will try and get a preview up tomorrow for at least the US/Canada game but who knows. Tomorrow is my only day off so I will do what I can.

Go USA.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympics Tidbits

Day whatever of the Olympics is over and still the Americans hold the lead in the medal standings. This is how it looks as of 11:30 PM on Thursday, February 18:

1) United States - 17 (5,5,7)
2) Germany - 11 (4,4,3)
3) Norway - 8 (3,3,2)
4) Canada - 7 (3,3,1)
5) France - 7 (2,1,4)

Odds and Ends

The men's and women's curling team is taking it pretty hard. They both lost again today and it wasn't pretty. The men lost 7-6 to Denmark and skip John Shuster blew it again for the third straight day. What a terrible Olympics for that dude. He seems like a nice guy, but being a nice guy doesn't score you points.

The women's curling team also fell to Denmark, 7-6. It was bad for them. The US was up 4-2 after five ends but then it just all fell apart, highlighted by a three point seventh end for Denmark, when the US had the hammer. What a tough loss.

The US women's ice hockey team blanked Finland 6-0 in a quarterfinal game. Not a huge surprise, it will be the US and Canada for that gold medal game.

The men's ice hockey team took care of Norway 6-1. To be honest it wasn't all that spectacular of a game. The US played a lights out first period then kinda wandered around for the second before finally slamming the door in the third. Whatev. They will be ready for Sunday when Canada comes strolling in. Bet your bottom dollar on that.

In the halfpipe finals the US team took home a silver and bronze medal. The US is really starting to run away with these medals and it is great to see. The US has really grabbed onto snowboarding and made it their own. It is a sport that we are kinda taking over. I am ok with that.

The game of the night, however, had nothing to do with the United States. It was the Canada and Switzerland hockey game. What a game. Unreal. It took a shootout, but Canada brought home the win 3-2 for the home country. Who had the game winning shootout goal? Bing. Oh hell yea. Lets not get it twisted, Switzerland was playing some good hockey, namely Jonas Hiller. He made saves in the third period that no goaltender had any business making and the only reason that the Swiss got a point in that game.

What a day of Olympics. It will only be getting better. Buckle up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FINALLY

The moment has come to us finally...



Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow down in the very nice Bradenton, Florida.

You know what that means. Pirates baseball is around the corner. Sure the Olympics are going on and the Penguins are in the midst of the playoff run when they get back but there is nothing like an 80 degree day with the sun out and no clouds in the sky watching baseball with a beer. It is what life is all about.

I will have more Pirates stuff as the season approaches and I will have periodic updates.

Make sure you get over to check out DK at the PG, Pat over at WHYGAVS, Brian at Raise the Jolly Rodger, Jim over at North Side Notch, Jon at the McEffect, Tim over at Bucco Fans, and Matt at Pittsburgh Lumber Company just to name a few of the really good Pirates only sites. They are legit places to get your fix.

For the first time in a long time I will say it:

Lets Go Bucs

Olympic Medal Count

Well the Olympics are underway and if you read mine and The Steelers n'at previews then you know you have some good shit to look forward to. It is just getting started up and it'd going to get real good, real quick.

Before we get to some links lets take a look at the medal count through four days of events:

1) United States - 8 (2,2,4)
2) Germany - 5 (1,3,1)
3) France - 4 (2,0,2)
4) Canada - 4 (1,2,1)
5) Switzerland - 3 (3,0,0)
6) South Korea - 3 (2,1,0)
7) Norway - 3 (0,2,1)
8) Italy - 3 (0,1,2)
9) China - 2 (1,1,0)
10) Czech Republic - 2 (0,1,1)


Ok, now to the good stuff.

Olympic Hockey starts Tuesday.

USA vs. Switzerland - 3 PM EST
Canada vs. Norway - 7:30 PM EST
Russia vs. Latvia - 12 AM EST

Russia can suck it.

Make sure you get over to the Pensblog and sign up for Rinkotology. It will be legit and you can win a sweet belt.

The Canadian goaltender situation, aka musical chairs, will have Roberto Luongo in net for tomorrows game and Marty in for the second game.

DK over at the PG is in Vancouver. Check out his blog, he has some pretty cool stuff about all the hockey teams.

USA by 100

Do it

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Penguins Game Day 62 - vs. Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators


1:00 PM, Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA



The Penguins will take part in their last game before the Olympic break when they take on he Nashville Predators at the good lady Mellon. The best part about this game? It is not on NBC, what a joke NBC is.

Lets get to it.

The lines:

Forwards
Kunitz-Crosby-Guerin
Dupuis-Malkin-Fedotenko
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Rupp-Letestu-Adams

Defense
Gonchar-Eaton
Orpik-Letang
McKee-Goligoski

Netminder
Fleury

This is the one and only meeting between Nashville and Pittsburgh this year. The Penguins fell to the Predators last year 5-3 when they blew a 3-0 lead:



Here is the game comparison:




Do it

Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Winter Olympics Preview - Hockey


Ice Hockey Preview


Events

Men’s
Women’s


Overview

It is ice hockey. You should know what it is if you read this blog, or if you are alive. This year they are playing on American sized ice and not Olympic sized ice which means that the rinks will be NHL size and they will be a little smaller.


Preview

There are some loaded teams in the years Olympics. In 2006 Sweden took home the gold medal with a 3-2 win over Finland. Should be pretty interesting that Russia, Canada and the U.S. did not make it back in 2006.

This season the teams are loaded with some NHL star talent and it should set up to be a wild ride. For Penguin fans like us it is going to be a great ride to see our top stars play on the top teams on the Olympics. Whether you like the NHL being in the Olympics or not you have to admit that they are going to bring the spotlight onto hockey. Too bad NBC is covering it and they will probably preview the medal games with the 700 Club and cut it out so we can see the Charlie Brown Christmas Story.

Here are the groupings for the men’s tournament (IIHF World Rankings):

Group A
Canada (1)
USA (6)
Switzerland (7)
Norway (12)

Group B
Russia (2)
Czech Republic (5)
Slovakia (8)
Latvia (11)

Group C
Sweden (3)
Finland (4)
Belarus (9)
Germany (10)

Lets take a look at the top teams in this year’s Olympics:


Canada


You gotta think that they have more to lose than any other team in this Olympic hockey tournament. After not medaling last season the pressure is on. If Canada does not win the gold there are going to be some upset people in Canada.

Look at the Canada team and they are just loaded with talent. Marty Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby, Shea Weber, Dan Boyle, Rick Nash, Dany Heatley, Jonathan Toews just to name a few are on this team.

When you can keep a guy like Jordan Staal off the team because you just don’t have room for them then you know you are in a good spot.

From your Pittsburgh Penguins Bing and MAF are on the team. Bing is going to be the leader of this team that more closely resembles an all-star team that you might put together when you play NHL on your Playstation 3 when you want to dominate. MAF isn’t probably going to play any minutes but he will get to practice.

This team is loaded offensively so that is where they are going to make their money. They have good enough goaltending that they will be able to push it a little bit more and score some goals. They are the front running favorite to win the gold medal. They have to or they might not be able to stay in Canada for the closing ceremonies.


Sweden

Sweden is going to be sort of a sleep team. They are a strong team and after taking home gold in the last winter games you can’t really call them a sleeper. They have a lot of NHL talent on their team and if they can get strong goaltending they will be a force in the games and a definite gold medal contender.

Henrik Lundqvist will be the main man in net for the Sweds. If he goes down they are going to be in trouble with young Jonas Gustavsson and little known Stefan Liv as his back ups. King Henrik has been the backbone for the Rangers team, a team that does not score a lot of goals. He knows what it is like to have to stand on his head night after night in order to get wins and he is perfectly capable of doing so. Remember, this isn’t a best of seven series, these are a lot of one game playoffs so to speak. A goaltender can get hot and carry a team and if Henrik gets hot Sweden has a chance. He can get rattled though, ask the Penguins.

Sweden also has arguably two of the best players in the NHL this year in Daniel and Henrik Sedin. They are atop most offensive categories and are just straight hockey players. They ar every good at what they do and they should be on the same line so they are going to be a force. Pair them up with Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Holmstrom and you have a very gritty team.

Nik Lidstrom will be the key player in the defense that also features Johnny Oduya and Niklas Kronwall. Lidstrom is one of the best in the NHL and has been for a very long time so he will be the glue that holds this defensive unit together.

Do not be surprised if Sweden takes home gold.


Russia


If there is a team that can match up with the high powered, offensive, Canada team it is defiantly Russia. Russia is littered with talent that inclues Alexander Ovechkin, Illya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Semin, Andrei Markov, Anton Volchenkov.

The Penguins sent up Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar. Geno and Sarge are two of the center pieces of the Penguins Stanley Cup run last season will look for Olympic gold with their high powered team.

Legit how do you match up a line with AO, Geno and Kovalchuk? Sure OV and Illya don’t play any defense but they can fill the net with the best of anyone in the Olympics. When that line is on the ice they can do some damage and might carry this Russia team to greatness.

The Russians also have some experience on their late lines with Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Fedorov and Aleksay Morosov but they can still fill the net. What a team.

Sarge and Markov might be paired together for a very nice defensive pairing and pair that with defensive stud Anton Volchenkov who is one of the best PK guys in the league and for those Penguins fans that he can just shut down a player like nobody’s business.

Evgeni Nabokov will be the main man for the Russians and he is a brick wall for the San Jose Sharks. His backup, Ilya Bryzgalov has been rock solid for the Phoenix Coyotes and will be a solid backup should something happen to Nabokov. Like I said before goalies can steal games in a format like the Olympics and while Nabokov might not have to steal the games with the offense that Russia has, he has that ability.


United States


The United States will probably not be picked to medal by most people because they will say that they just don’t have the talent to match up with Russia and Canada. To some extent they are absolutely right. I mean when you look over the rosters for those two teams you just get scared because they are the best of the best when it comes to hockey players. If you think I am going to be impartial when it comes to team USA then you got another thing coming. My American pride trumps all.

Team USA is a very young team and they are very raw. Is that going to be good or bad for the US? Will it be better for them to go and just not know what is going to happen or to have some playmakers out there that have been there and done that before. Who knows. Their team will be exciting, however, and should make for some great games.

Ryan Millers will be the man in net with Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick. Miller is the starter, no questions asked. Miller is one of the best players in the NHL right now and some people are saying that he could be the league MVP if they were to pick now. That is saying a lot. He is atop the list of most statistical categories facing guys like OV, Geno and Bing all the time. If he comes up big then the USA has a chance to do some big things. Thomas has been mud, Quick is only 24. Yikes.

The defense is also pretty young with Pittsburgh’s own Brooks Orpik being one of the oldest guys on the blue line. Orpik is 29 and makes his cash on dishing out free candy. You know what that means if you follow hockey. He is a physical presence

Joining Free Candy with me the Johnson’s (Jack and Erik), Brian Rafalski, Ryan Whitney and Ryan Sutter. Not a terribly flashy defensive group but they can play some hockey. It will be interesting to see how Ryan Whitney fits into the fold as he is a very offensive minded player and is not physical at all. That might hurt. Rafalski was on the last two American teams and brings some experience as he has played on that venue and also for the Wings on some finals teams.

On the front lines for the Red, White and Blue is a mixed bag of players. A lot of youth of front with Pat Kane, Ryan Kesler, Bobby Ryan and Paul Stasty. Those group of youngsters are joined by some good veteran players such as captain Jamie Langenbrunner, Chris Drury and Ryan Malone. I like seeing Malone on the team. He is a gritty player that does whatever it takes to get the job done.

A man on this team that I absolutely love (in a hockey way, not in a I want to marry that guy way) is Zach Parise. He is the most underrated player in the NHL. He is a superstar that never gets any pub. I can’t wait until he beats fat Marty with 1 second left in OT.

Overall this team doesn’t have a ton of flash on it, but it does have a lot of heart. While heart does not score goals it does mean something, especially in a tournament like this. I talked about it a hundred times but a goalie standing on his head for a few games goes a long way in a one-and-done type thing. Ryan Miller can steal games.


Prediction

Three Rivers Burgh Blog – Are you kidding me? Team USA. Suck it Canada and Russia.

The Steelers n’at - I actually took a long time debating this pick. Team USA knocked off Canada in the World Junior Championships a few weeks ago and this may have signaled a changing of the guard in hockey. However, when your team has Sidney Crosby on it, you have to be the favorites. Therefore, I am going to pick Crosby to do what Wayne Gretzky never did: win a gold medal. For the record, Mario Lemeiux was on the '02 Canadian team that won gold, so 66 has a gold to his name while Gretzky does not. Suck it, Wayne. I'm going to take Finland as my sleeper team. I do think the US will find their way onto the medal stand. Sweden is basically the Detroit Red Wings, there's no way I'm picking them. In Women's hockey, it's between Canada and the US for the Gold. Go America!

2010 Winter Olympics Preview - Speed Skating

Speed Skating Preview


What's not to love about Speed Skating? Short track is basically a condensed version of a NASCAR race with no penalties for taking people out. Okay, maybe there are, but Apolo Anton Ohno got taken out in the 1,000 meter race in 2002 and the dude who knocked him out didn't medal so there really weren't any penalties.



Events

Long Track
Men’s 500 m
Ladies’ 500 m
Men’s 1,000 m
Ladies’ 1,000 m
Men’s 1,500 m
Ladies’ 1,500 m
Ladies’ 3,000 m
Men’s 5,000 m
Ladies’ 5,000 m
Men’s 10,000 m
Men’s Team Pursuit
Ladies’ Team Pursuit

Short Track
Men’s 500 m
Ladies’ 500 m
Men’s 1,000 m
Ladies’ 1,000 m
Men’s 1,500 m
Ladies’ 1,500 m
Ladies’ 3,000 m Relay
Men’s 5,000 m Relay

In Long Track, just called "Speed Skating" for these games as "Short Track" was given it's own event, skaters compete head-to-head around a 400-meter oval. In each event, each skater gets only one run. The skater with the fastest time wins. Personally, we think a bracketed competition would be cooler, but we love brackets and stuff, so that's probably just us.

In Short Track, skaters compete in heats of 4 to 6 skaters. The top 2 from each heat advance to the next round until only 4 skaters remain for the final heat.

. In the relay, 4 skaters from 8 nations compete. There is a semi-finals and finals round in relay.

Favorites

In 2006 in Turin, the Netherlands (3G, 2S, 4B), Canada (2G, 4S, 2B) and the United States (3G, 3S, 1B) cleaned house in Speed Skating. Short Track has been dominated by Japan, Korea, and American Apolo Anton Ohno. The fields are a bit more wide open this year, particularly in the shorter distances where any number of skaters could bring home gold. Distinct favorites are American Shani Davis (who beat Stephen Colbert in a race to get on the team) in the 1,000 and 1,500 and Sven Kramer of the Netherlands in the 5,000 and 10,000. In Short Track, Apolo Ohno will have another shot at gold this year.

US Hopefuls

Beyond Shani Davis and Apolo Ohno, the US's hopes rest on Chad Hedrick in Speed Skating. No one else is even close to Ohno in short track. Hedrick probably couldn't hold Shani Davis' jockstrap but he still has an outside shot to reach the medal stand.

Predictions

The Steelers n'at Pick: Stephen Colbert. For those that haven't heard, he and Colbert Nation saved the US Speed Skating team by raising money. The Colbert insignia will be on the US Speed Skater's uniforms and give them the "Colbert Bump" necessary to get them on the medal stand. On the women's side, Canada will probably sweep everything.

Three Rivers Burgh Blog Pick: The United States will take home with Ohno, and maybe some guys from the Netherlands. Colbert is an interesting choice as I believe he just went off the board in Vegas so they must know something.

2010 Winter Olympic Preview - Skeleton



Skeleton Preview

There isn’t really much to this sport. You get the fastest combined time and you win. Skeleton is pretty much like bobsleigh and luge where you are basically sled riding down an icy slope in order to get the fastest time. The difference with the skeleton is that the sled is literally shaped like a human body, hence the name skeleton. The athletes start by running to start and then finding the right groves to race in, must like when you were a kid and you wanted to hit the lane that was already made by your friend before.



Events

Men’s
Women’s


Overview


You steer your skeleton sled by just shifting your body weight as you lye on your stomach. Each event (men’s and women’s) consist of four heats held over two days and the lowest combined times win.



U.S. Hopefuls

The U.S. will probably not hang their hat on their skeleton teams as they don’t look to really figure in to any serious medal contention for either the men’s or the women’s field. Eric Bernotas, Zach Lund and John Daly will compete for the men and Katie Uhlaender will compete for the women.



Predictions

Three Rivers Blog - For the women Mellisa Hollingsworth is the top ranked skeleton competitor in the World Cup circuit and she is a Canadian so you know for sure she will put her best foot forward for this one. For the men, I am going a little deeper in the pool and going with German Sandro Stielicke to win. He has some good performances in the World Cup and it should translate in Vancouver.

The Steelers n’at -
Skeleton is all about guts. Do you have the guts to lay with your face 2 inches from the ice while rocketing down a chute? Unlike Luge, I feel like Skeleton requires a bit less technical skill. With the games in their home country, we're going to take Canadians to sweep gold here with Hollingsworth and Jon Montgomery bringing home the Canadian Bacon.

2010 Winter Olympics Preview - Bobsleigh

Bobsleigh Preview

You've seen Cool Runnings, right? If you haven't, you really need to get off your ass and do that before the Olympics start on Friday. Bobsleigh (or "Bobsled") is basically team sledding down a hill. With the team members packed into a large metal phallus, it's only slightly less homoerotic than 2-man luge. Stephen Colbert gave 4-man Bobsleigh a try:


Events
Four-man
Two-man
Womens

The Bobsleigh "run" begins with the team members pushing the sled to build up momentum then hopping on board and riding down hill. There are two important jobs on the sled: driver and break man. The driver sits in the front and steers the sled through the 16 turns on the course. The break man sits in the back and applies the breaks when needed. In Two-man and Women's, there are only two people in the sled, the driver and break person. In Four-man, there are two additional riders that are basically there to push at the beginning then to be as aerodynamic as possible.

For all of the events, each team makes four runs down the hill over two days. The team with the lowest aggregate time at the end of the fourth run wins.

Favorites

Traditionally, Germany and Switzerland are the powerhouse countries in the event. Germany has utterly dominated since the turn of the century, taking home all three gold medals in Turin and two of the three in Salt Lake City. The United States, who has won a gold, 2 silvers, and a bronze over the last two Olympics should be competitive as well. Don't be surprised if Canada uses their homeland advantage and lands at least one team on the medal stand.

US Hopefuls

The United States will enter three teams in each of the three events. The US has a lot of bobsleigh talent on their roster for these games and should be competitive in every division. In 2006, the US 4-man team finished 6th, less than 1 second behind Gold medal Germany. Since the margins for victory are so small and the US roster filled with experience and talent, there is always a good possibility for America to bring home the gold here.

Predictions

The Steelers n'at Pick: The German teams have struggled since their 2006 sweep in Turin, but still remain the favorites going in. We're going to be complete homers here and take the US to bring home at least 2 golds. Look for a good showing from Canada, particularly in the Women's event where they won Silver in Turin.

Three Rivers Burgh Blog Pick: If I could I would pick the US for everything. I will take Germany since they took the U.S.

Penguins Game Day 61 - vs. New York Rangers

New York Rangers

7:30 PM, Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA


The Rangers just have been reeling. Gaborik has been hurt for the past couple days and he is a game time decision to play tonight. Without him this team is pretty bad. They are a one line team and he is far and away their best player. Hopefully we don't catch the Rangers on a hot day and we can get a couple of points. Finishing the games before the break strong will be really good for this team as Ottawa is pouring it one.

It is also worth noting that New Jersey is on the bring of total collapse and the Penguins are catching them fast. I remember a month ago when the Devils were up seven points on the Penguins will three games at hand. Not they have one game in hand and only up one point on the Penguins.


This will be the fifth meeting between the two teams this season with the Penguins winning all four of those contests.

Here is the Penguins 3-2 win in the Igloo for opening night:



Here is the Penguins 8-3 win on November 28 in Pittsburgh:



Aaaaaaaaaaaaand the Penguins win on November 30 win at MSG:


The Penguins went to MSG and won 4-2 on January 25.




Here are the lines thanks to the Penguins website:

Forwards
Kunitz-Crosby-Guerin
Dupuis-Malkin-Fedotenko
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Rupp-Letestu-Adams

Defense

Gonchar-Eaton
Orpik-Letang
McKee-Goligoski

Netminder

Johnson

Not too surprised Johnson is in net tonight. With the Olympic break coming up Johnson will not get a ton of work since he is not on an Olympic roster. Whatever. MAF will be back in net on Sunday and then go off to team Canada to practice. It will be a good situation I think. Johnson needs some time.

I don't know how much these line pairings mean because Disco usually makes 100 different line pairings in the first five minutes of the game anyways so it's whatever.


Here are the team comparisons:

2010 Winter Olympic Preview - Luge



Luge Preview

One might wonder why they don’t just call this sled racing (I do) but it turns out that luge is actually the French word for sled. Not sure how the French got the first dibs on calling it this but it is a wild sport, as most of you might know.

1964 was the first time that luge was introduced in the Olympics and it has been a pretty big hit ever since.


Events


Men’s Singles
Women’s Singles
Doubles


Overview


The lugers start in a standing position and push the sled to start, as they then jump into the sled. They start in the sitting position and then lye down in order to become aerodynamic so they can go faster. They slow down by sitting up and pushing their feet on runners in the sled.

The singles events consist of four heats over two days. The individual with the lowest combined time over the four runs wins. Men and women compete on the same track, but the women and doubles begin further down the course. The four-run format is unique to the Olympic Winter Games and designed to reward consistency, endurance and ability to withstand pressure - particularly on the second day.

The doubles event consists of two runs over one day, with the fastest total time determining the winner. All events in luge are timed to the thousandth of a second.

Last winter Olympics, in 2006, Armin Zoeggeler (ITA) took home the gold in the men’s singles, Sylke Otto (GER) took home the singles for the women and in the doubles Wolfgang Linger and Andreas Linger (AUT) took home the Gold. All told the Germans took home four medals out of the nine and the United States did not place anyone. How sweet of a name is Wolfgang though, that team deserves a Gold metal just for that name. I bet he is a baller.



U.S. Hopefuls

Mark Grimmette is the mainstay of a 10-person American luge team with Bengt Walden, who comes to the U.S. after competing for Sweden three times.

U.S. luge has another four-time Olympian in Brian Martin and a three-timer in Tony Benshoof. Grimmette and Martin are the only members of the luge squad who have ever medaled.



Predictions

Three Rivers Burgh Blog - Zoeggeler is a beast when it comes to winning medals in luge. He has taken home Gold the last two winter Olympics and he is going to retire after this season. Zoeggeler is considered one of the bet luggers to ever participate in the sport and currently holds the points lead in the World Cup. I’ll take him. Expect to see some Germans up on the medal podium as well. Andre Florschuetz and Torsten will look to take home Gold in the doubles. Book it.

The Steelers n’at -
Being of Italian heritage, I can't bet against my blood here. Zoeggler's nickname is "Il Cannibale." Do you want to bet against that? I didn't think so. Besides that, I'll say that the German women sweep the medals.

2010 Winter Olympics Preview - Figure Skating

Figure Skating Preview





What would you do if you had a sport that decided its winners based on an arcane scoring system where a random group of people gave scores based on their opinions, and those opinions determined a champion? Well, if you're College Football, you institute the BCS, which in its original forms, rewarded teams for running up the score and blowing out their opponents. Similarly, after the figure skating disaster in Salt Lake City in 2002 where the Russian pairs team won gold despite skating a flawed program, the sport of figure skating began a long and complicated process to revamp their scoring system. Now, the scoring is based more on adhering to technical requirements rather than performance. What does this mean? This means that someone who skates a relatively dull program that hits all the technical points will score better than someone whose performance is more artistic and challenging.



Events

Men's

Women's

Pairs

Ice Dancing



In both the Men's and Women's division, skaters perform a short program (roughly 3 minutes) and a long program (slightly over 4 minutes). The scores from the Long Program are weighted and count for 2/3 of the overall score while the scores from the short program count for 1/3. With the new computerized scoring system, don't even try to figure out how it works, it's like the BCS.



The Pairs event follows the same format where a man and woman skate together. Sorry folks, Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy have not entered the Pairs competition in Vancouver.



In Ice Dancing, the pair does not use lifts and throws the way they do in Pairs skating. Rather, think of Ice Dancing like Dancing with the Stars on Ice. It's essentially a ballroom dance competition on skates.



Favorites



Russians have dominated figure skating since the steroid-induced days of the Soviet Union. Their athletes are clean now, but haven't lost their mastery over the sport. Russian Evgeni Plushenko won Men's gold in Turin and looks on track for a repeat performance. Brian Joubert of France, Patrick Chan of Canada, and Daisuke Takahashi of Japan will also be front-runners in the Men's event. On the Women's side, South Korean Yu-Na Kim and Japanese skaters Miki Ando, Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki are the favorites.





US Hopefuls



Men's skater Johnny Weir has been getting a lot of press in the run-up to the games for his outspoken nature. We've got nothing against Weir, but he isn't the best skater on the team. That would be Evan Lysacek, who has a decent shot at a medal if he can land a quadruple toe loop. Honestly though, we'd like nothing better than to see Evan and Johnny both on the medal podium at the end of the day. The US will be represented by Rachel Flatt and Mirai Nagasu in the Women's event. Both are inexperienced in the international arena but could pull out a big performance and shock the world. Nothing America hasn't done before.



Predictions

The Steelers n'at Pick: Plushenko is going to medal, there's no way around that, the question really is who the other two medalists will be. We're going to pick Lysacek and Canadian Patrick Chan with Takahashi from Japan as our sleeper pick. On the women's side, we're going to say Mirai Nagasu stuns everyone and gets on the medal stand.



Three Rivers Burgh Blog Pick: I will go with the prediction above. Man I do not like Russia.

2010 Winter Olympic Preview - Snowboarding



Snowboarding Preview

Most of us know what snowboarding is and we are pretty familiar with how that stuff works. Basically snowboarding is the fastest growing sport as evident by things such as the winter X games where that is the fastest growing event. Kids and adults are alike in starting to get into the sport which has brought a lot more light to the sport and quality competition from the United States.



Events

Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom
Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom
Men’s Halfpipe
Ladies’ Halfpipe
Men’s Snowboard Cross
Ladies’ Snowboard Cross


Overview


Like I said most of you know what the snowboarding is all about but for the sake of those people that don’t know I will review this right quick.

The halfpipe is an event where the competitors are based on tricks they perform. The ramp is shaped like a pipe that is cut in half (imagine that). The riders in this event are judged on the height they get when going from side to side and the types of tricks that they do. The better and more smoothly they get through their tricks the better the score.

The parallel giant slalom the competitors race against another competitor down a course and making mandatory turns through a series of gates. Pretty simple for the winner. First one down wins.

In the snowboard cross there will be four racers that race down the hill at the same time. The hill has bumps, jumps and ramps. They run in the heats of four and the top two advances. You get the idea.


U.S. Hopefuls

In 2006 the snowboard events was one event where the Americans cleaned house. The United States took home 7 medals (3,3,1). Switzerland was the only other country to win more than one medal with four (3,1,0).

Shaun White is also a big player in the snowboarding scene and he was a gold medal winner for the U.S. in the 2006 games in the halfpipe. Kevin Pearce and Danny Davis are also top flight boarders who can win some medals.

From the “I bet you didn’t know” files, Snowboarding, and more specifically White, are ratings magnets. NBC saw 23.2 million viewers watch White's victory in 2006, which was 3.3 million more than the average for the Games. Actually, the halfpipe final even outdrew the Opening Ceremonies, which attracted 22.2 million viewers.


Competition

Jasey-Jay Anderson is a Canadian and is looking to win some medals this year in his last Olympics. He is in his home country so I am sure he will be geeked up. Australians Benjamin Karl and Andreas Prommegger will also look to overtake Shaun White this year.




Prediction

Three Rivers Burgh Blog – Shaun White and Kelly Clark are gonna win.

The Steelers n’at -
Shaun White looks like CarrotTop but he's a lot better at his job. Therefore, he's going to win. The US and Canada are going to dominate this sport. Europeans will be lucky with anything more than a bronze medal in any of the snowboarding events.

2010 Winter Olympic Preview - Curling

Usually the butt end of jokes, the sport of Curling first appeared in the Olympics in 1924, but then disappeared from the competition until the Nagano Olympics in 1998. Many people probably just assume that Curling came from Canada and was a sport for people who couldn't play hockey. Guess what? You couldn't be further from the truth. Curling actually originated in Scotland. Since we all know about the Scot's love for attempting to aim small objects at small targets, it makes sense that Curling would originate there.

Curling Preview


Events:

Men's
Women's

Curling is played similarly to shuffleboard on ice. Each team "throws" eight stones down the ice, attempting to get it to stop at the center of the target on the ice. A set of eight throws for both teams (16 total throws) is called an "end." A game consists of ten "ends" and the team with the most points (determined by how close to the center of the target the stones are) wins.

Both the men's and women's tournament consists of ten teams that play in a round-robin tournament. After round-robin play, the top four teams are seeded into a bracket. The first round winners play for the gold and silver medals with the losers playing for the bronze.

Competitors in the Men's Tournament: Canada, China, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, United States

Competitors in the Women's Tournament: Canada, China, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, United States

Favorites

Canada is an absolute institution in the men's sport, and anything less than Gold will be severe disappointment. Great Britain's men's team has also been strong in recent years but got upset by the United States team in the bronze medal match in Turin. Finland won silver in Turin and should finish in the top half of the tournament once again.

On the women's side, Sweden won gold in Turin and looks to be in position to make a run at it once again. The Canadian team is always strong and will have the home crowd behind them. Switzerland won the Silver Medal in Turin and should be at the top once again. China is a team on the rise, with their women's team claiming gold at last year's Curling World Championships.

US Hopefuls

In their desire to claim another medal, the men's team didn't let Stephen Colbert on the squad. The competition will be stout, but after their Bronze in Turin, you have the believe that the US will make a run at another medal.

After getting absolutely shelled in Turin, the US Women's team looks to rebound with a better performance. The US team is more experienced and should fare better than in 2006. As always with tournaments, if they can sneak into the top 4 in Round Robin, anything can happen after that.

Predictions

The Steelers n'at Pick: We would be stupid to pick against Canada in the Men's tournament, so we're not going to. Going out on a limb, we say the US improves upon their Turin performance and makes it to the Gold Medal match, but falls just short of Canada. We're going to take Great Britian for the bronze. On the women's side, we're going to go with Sweden to repeat their Gold Medal performance from Turin with Canada a close second. China sneaks in and wins bronze.

Three Rivers Burgh Blog Pick: I agree 100% that Canada will bring home the gold here. I live in Alaska right now and watching these people curl is actually pretty fun to watch. You might laugh at this sport but it is no joke. It look hard (I have no tried it yet) but it takes a lot to actually play it, plus if you fall on your ass on the ice you will be laughed at the rest of the time.

2010 Winter Olympic Preview - Alpine Skiing



Alpine Skiing Preview

Alpine Skiing has been around Europe for some 150 years (or so I have been told) and it is pretty sweet if you are a skiing fan, or even if you are not. Alpine Skiing is comprised of ten different events.

The varying steepness’s of the slopes require that the Alpine Skiers have wider skis that makes them go down the hills a little more smoothly. This was first introduced as an Olympic sport in 1936 with a split between downhill and slalom. Super combined was not added until 1988 when the Olympics were in Calgary. Giant Slalom was added in ’52 and super-G in ’88.



Events

Men’s Downhill
Ladies’ Downhill
Men’s Super-G
Ladies’ Super-G
Men’s Giant Slalom
Ladies’ Giant Slalom
Men’s Slalom
Ladies’ Slalom
Men’s Super Combined
Ladies’ Super Combined


Overview
Downhill can have a vertical drop of 1,100 metres as the skiers will also have to maneuver around gates on their way down. This isn’t just like you going down the bunny hill at 7 Springs, this is legit. This is the fastest of all the events and the fastest time will get the Gold.

Slalom is the shortest of all the events and you get the quickest turns on this run. The skiers will get two runs on two totally difference courses and the winner is determined by combining the times together. So theoretically you could run the second fastest time in both events and still win the gold.

Giant Slalom is almost identical to the regular Slalom but it has more rounded turns. Just as in the Slalom there are two courses that the skiers have to go down and they make two runs down those two difference courses. The courses are on the same slope for the Giant Slalom and just as in the regular Slalom the best combined time wins.

Super-G stands for super giant slalom and is basically one run down a single course and the fastest time wins that race. The difference with this race is that there are tighter turns than the regular slalom and these turns are very sharp and precise.

Super Combined is a downhill run followed up by one slalom run on a shorter course. The times of the two runs are added up and the fastest total time wins the event.

In 2006 Austria just absolutely waxed the field in the final metal count for the Alpine Skiing. They took 14 total metals (4 Gold, 5 Silver, 5 Bronze), the next closest country was Sweden with four. The U.S. took home two metals, both Gold.


U.S. Hopefuls

If you have paid attention to anything over the past month you know that Lindsey Vonn is what is up when talking about American Skiing. She is the hands on favorite on the women’s side and she excels at the Alpine and Super G.

Bode Miller still skis for the United States so that will be another medal contender to try and overthrow Austria at the king of the hill.


Contenders

Alpine Skiing is the place where legends are made (or something like that) so with that being said we can pretty surely sit here and say that Vonn is going to win some medals for the United States.

As talked before Austria will be a huge player in this years games with names such as Michael Walchhofer, Benjamin Raich, Reinfried and Andrea Fischbacher will all be medal winners.

Switzerland will also be big players so look for them to bring some medals home.

Raich will be the big player on the men’s side. He is legit.


Predictions

Three Rivers Burgh Blog – I am taking Vonn for the women and I am going to take Raich for the men.

Vonn is for sure sexy so that counts for something in my book. I think after she takes home a few medals I am going to ask her out. How can you resist a low level Pittsburgh blogger after you win medals in the Winter Olympics? My prediction is she says yes and we get married.

The Steelers n’at -
The weather in Vancouver has been tricky the last few weeks. It hasn't been cold enough for snow, so they've been manufacturing fake snow all over the place. While this isn't a problem out at 7 Springs, it has been in Vancouver because the temperatures are above freezing so all the fake snow has been melting. This could lead to some messy downhill competition with a dark horse taking the Gold. That being said, I'm still going to take Lindsay Vonn in the Women's and some Austrian in the men's.